Garfield County approves slimmed-down 2021 budget

Fund balance projected at $81.8 million by the end of next year

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County has approved a fiscally conservative $101.7 million budget for 2021, including a balanced operating budget ($87 million), $7.5 million for capital projects, and $7.2 million for discretionary expenditures. The Board of County Commissioners directed staff to cut expenses in 2021, contributing to a $5.6 million reduction in expenditures over the 2020 adopted budget.

Estimated operating revenues outpace expenditures by $203,000, and the proposed capital and discretionary items are drawing down fund balances by $10.3 million, resulting in an overall projected fund balance of $81.8 million at the end of 2021.

Revenues are projected at $91.4 million in 2021, a reduction of $2.2 million over the 2020 adopted budget. Much of the decline in revenues stems from a large reduction in tax revenues from the oil and gas industry.

The county conducted two days of public hearings in November, following a thorough budgeting process, in which departments were asked to cut spending. The board also asked directors and managers to cut positions through attrition in 2021, resulting in a headcount of 496, which is 19 fewer than in 2020.

The capital budget includes more than $4.1 million for the county’s road and bridge fund, including $2.16 million for machinery and heavy equipment. Infrastructure improvements and projects equal $2.25 million, and $500,000 is budgeted for land improvement projects.

“I’ve been a commissioner for 12 years, and we knew this time would come, and it has,” said Commissioner Mike Samson. “We have to make the hard choices, and looking into the crystal ball, this is just the beginning of harder budgets to come. None of us like it, but it’s the way it is.”

The adopted budget was approved unanimously, 3-0, and is available on the Garfield County website at


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